By Monica Thomas
It’s no surprise that over the last year thousands of non-essential businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic. Small businesses across the country struggled to make the bare minimum and hoped it was enough to survive the mandated lockdown. People were losing their successful businesses they spent the entirety of their lives building. But amongst all of the hardships millions of Americans faced, some businesses actually found themselves doing very well, if not thriving within this past year.
In a quaint little building in the heart of Tatnuck Square in Worcester, Massachusetts you will find the home of On the Rise bakery. A perfect place to grab a delicious pastry or hot cup of coffee on your way to work or for a long study session. They offer a wide range of foods from breakfast sandwiches to personally designed wedding cakes. Owner Elizabeth Casey opened On The Rise back in 2006. Starting with a license and a commercial kitchen, Casey, who has been baking worldwide for over 40 years now, started and built her entire business out of her home. She eventually expanded and opened On the Rise’s physical location near the intersection of Pleasant and Chandler Street. During this past year due to the impact of the pandemic, On the Rise has faced some challenges. The bakery is open two less days than before and only 25 hours a week.
Mara Mahoney, baker of over 17 years and head pastry chef said this has been difficult on the business:
“I think there is definitely inflation on certain items that we’ve always carried,” she said. “Gloves and sanitizing items and things like that have definitely skyrocketed because of the need. We’ve always had to have sanitizing tablets for our dishes but just because everyone is looking for stuff like that it’s more expensive. Inflation rates went up about 75%.”
However, hours being cut and a rise in costs for sanitary products were the worst effects COVID had on On the Rise. The business actually saw an increase in their regular customers because a lot of people work from home and have the time to stop in. There has been huge support within the local community.
“The community has been really supportive,” Casey said. “They have been awesome actually. Business wise when we are open we do well.”
Mary Thomas, a local Worcester resident of over 35 years says she loves visiting On The Rise after a great experience she had years ago. “I was at a wedding for my best friend’s daughter. The wedding cake they had was to die for. When I asked where it was from the bride’s mother said she got it at a local bakery called On The Rise. That was over 8 years ago, and I have been going ever since.”
Although weddings with larger parties and big holiday celebrations where a larger cake would be necessary have been canceled, Casey says that people are still placing orders. In fact, the cakes that people are ordering are smaller but more detailed and people are willing to pay a little more especially around the holidays. A lot of couples are hoping to reschedule their weddings to this fall which Casey and Mahoney are hoping keeps them busy with everyone trying to get married at the same time.
An approachable staff has also aided in their businesses growth. People acknowledge the staff members and want to return due to the amazing customer service they experience at the bakery. Since the inside of the building is so small Casey has staff members working the front door to keep people safe outside while maintaining the six feet social distance inside.
“We’ll have people send us emails about our kids out front which is nice to hear,” Casey said. “They are good kids. They care about how customers are being treated when they come in, and the product that they serve them. They take a lot of pride in what they do which is good and they are conscientious.”
With indoor seating available again Casey is hopeful that it will bring back some of the normality that they experienced before COVID-19. The business continues to maintain a clean and safe environment for its employees and customers.